I should have resisted, and didn’t. Hey, the fact that I’m able to pun, even badly, is an indicator I’m feeling a little better than I was.
The facts are these.
I’m a rennie. A wench (official and card-carrying. Literally.) A ren-rat wanna-be. I would live at the faire if I could. I am 39.5% FaireFolk pure on the Renaissance Faire purity test. I’m rennie enough to know that in the world of rennies I’m not really a real rennie. (*pause to add NYRF to favorites list*)
I’ve been going to the New York Renaissance Faire since 1991. I went with the same person steadily from 1991 through, I believe, 2002 (3?), at which time things went agley. I missed a couple of years, including, to my chagrin, the 25th anniversary year, but then four years back got together a local(ish) group from The Site Which Shall Be nameless to go, and I got them addicted. It wasn’t all joy and light; it was a good-sized group, and that was the day that would have confirmed for me if I hadn’t already known that I will never be a leader. It was a little – no, a lot – like herding cats. They asked me where they should go next; I suggested something I wanted to see which might be starting in twenty minutes or so, good time to go get a seat; they agreed with enthusiasm; a moment later one or more would be playing a game or shopping or lingering to watch a different performance, and then it was too late for that performance, so they asked where next, and we went through the whole cycle again. I kept being reminded of a Frasier episode in which Niles is stuck with the trophy whippet Maris bought, a stolid little thing that ignored him utterly. “Come back, Girl. Come back here this instant! Okay…” Also, at one point one group of us searched for the separated rest of us for about an hour. That was … no fun at all.
Still, it was nice to be back, and it was nice to be there with people I thought were friends. We went the next year, too, and except for the Walkie Talkie Incident (one of the group seeming to not realize that that was a Live Performance going on eight feet in front of her, and those were interested spectators two feet in front of her, while she responded to the astonishingly loud beeping of her walkie, and did so in a louder-than-normal speaking voice… I was mortified. It was approaching the height of poor behavior. And I still don’t know what I could possibly have said about it – at first I was too outraged to say anything reliably civil, and after catching my breath never could thing of what to say to a friend’s wife who behaved dreadfully) it was a good time.
Then two years ago things went drastically agley with The Site Which Shall Be nameless and with the Northeast Group … part of which latter agleyness was that, summer of ’06, I never heard a word about planning a faire gathering (aka moot) until one Friday at work I opened an email that said “I’ll pick you up at six tomorrow morning!” Not “should I” or “how about” or “we haven’t talked about it but” or even “we planned all this before your evident complete loss of short-term memory”. Now, first of all, what? Secondly, I don’t do six a.m. pickups. Not even for faire. A six a.m. pickup means I’ve been up since in the fives, and on a Saturday? No. Five-something a.m. on a Saturday on eighteen hours’ notice? Hell no. Why, I queried, was this the first I was hearing about it? Oh, well, hadn’t I been checking the Moots board on The Site Which Shall Be nameless (TSWSBn)? Which is not something I did even when I was a regular on the boards – and especially not then, as I had either officially or all-but left the boards. If this had been the first time they’d done it to me it wouldn’t have been so bad, but it wasn’t – I was left out of a viewing of the LotR trilogy on a big screen in Rhode Island because it was tax season and I worked (woe is, or was, me) for an accounting firm, and didn’t have time to breathe much less visit TSWSBn’s more beaten-pathless areas. Both were situations when a single one-line email – “hey, go check out the Moot board” – would have made all the difference in the world. So I was a bit unhappy when I got that email, and needless to say I didn’t go to Faire with them that year. Things did not improve with the group, though I tried. God, how I tried. Stupid. (The above was not, by any stretch of the imagination, all.)
Last year I didn’t get there at all (did I? No – I haven’t been since I cut my hair), since the one time my brother took me (with his wife and the two Kids) was his token pat on the head, and the one time my sister took me (and Kid) was The Hottest Day Ever In Faire History. And then I got us lost on the way home and we ended up in Yonkers. Sorry. And no one else I know has the least bit of interest.
This year, for the hell of it and because in a fit of wild optimism I bought a pair of tickets when they went on their more-than-half-price sale in December, I sent an email around the office to see if anyone would be interested in going. Long story short, two friends from work, their significant others (it’s the 21st century – can’t we please have a better phrase than that?), and I are set to head off to Tuxedo, NY, on Saturday the 19th, possibly with a stop for breakfast at my beloved Orange Top Diner, where I’ve gone for breakfast about 89% of my trips to the Faire. (Great coffee. And some of the waitresses have been there since we started going in the 90’s.) I should be excited. I should be making a shopping list. I should be a-twitter (NOT that kind of twitter). I’m not – at least, not the good kind of excited and a-twitter. Because, you see, a week ago tonight, while emailing back and forth with Kat about going, I thought of the Northeast group, and wondered… And I did a little spy-work on TSWSBn. Unlike the old boards, the new ones have a nifty search engine, and I searched – and though it took a while I found “Can’t wait to see you on the 19th!” I don’t remember what I said. It wasn’t a joyful noise unto the Lord. It was more of a “You hate me THAT much???” unto the Lord.
So here I am, looking at a return to my favorite place after too long away. Granted, a large part of why I loved the place so very much is gone: so many of the acts and actors that were there for a long time left. The Justins, Justin Lewis and Justin Ray Thompson, who alternated playing Robin Hood for several years and whom I adored, both married and gave up jousting and moved away. Three Pints Shy, the marvellous band which includes another crush of mine (or two), was only there one weekend this year, and that’s not this weekend. Dolly’s gone; the Bard O’Neill has been gone a while; I don’t think Coeur de Lion have been about in years. And no more Wyrd Sisters. They use wireless microphones for the joust (!!). And, worst of all, the Pub Sing, the truly glorious singalong at the end of each night, has been turned into a sampler of Faire Bands’ Greatest Hits. I loved it the way it was, more than just about anything, and it’s not remotely that any more, which is terribly sad. Also sad: the garb doesn’t fit any more… And I can’t get a braid any more.
BUT! It is still Faire. And the Crimson Pirates are still there, and the Kilcoynes may even be back in. Lochanside is still there. Chris deTroy is still a part of it. All good. It’s still the place that resonates with nearly every verse of “Come by the Hills”. And change isn’t always bad – I might love the new actors (which would of course turn into more bad if they don’t stick around). My friends are telling me to go and enjoy it, don’t let Them ruin another year for me, acknowledge them when (and it is when, not if) I see them – and get on with it.
I guess I’m not as strong as they think I am, or as they want me to be. Because I not only introduced the NE group to the Faire, I brought them to the Orange Top. I’m about as sure as I can be that they’ll be there Saturday, too. So – what? Do we go to Friendly’s? Eat at the Faire? Or go to the Orange Top – and … then what?? Give a chilly nod? Ignore them? Cry into my eggs? (That’s more likely than I’d like to admit.) I don’t know how to handle it, any of it; I don’t know how they will react. They give the illusion that they have no earthly idea what they ever did to put me out – which is bollocks, since if this blog and Walk in the Dust show anything I think they show I can express myself, and I expressed myself in emails at the time … They should know. Understanding’s a whole ‘nother bucket of mead. Now, even if we don’t go to the diner, we’ll see them at the Faire. It’s 40 acres – not that big, really, and there will be, at a guess, 12-15 of them. And even if we don’t run into them, I will be looking over my shoulders every moment waiting for them to hove into view. I will feel like a rabbit in a fox’s den. (I’m already starting to.) I don’t know if John will make a beeline across the diner or faire grounds, as applicable, and latch on to me, or whether he or all the rest of them will ignore me. And I don’t know how I’ll feel if they do ignore me. Relieved, yes, but, illogically, pissed. I don’t know. I do know that I have a semi-paranoid horror based on past experience of being discussed – in general, and specifically by these people in this situation. Part of me wanted to email one or two and make them as miserable as the day approaches as I am. Most of me wants to just not go, while there is a small part digging her heels in and saying things like “You can’t let them do this to you! Again!” They already have. “You can’t let them ruin another year’s Faire!” They already have. “You can’t roll over and let them have the day without even trying to deal with it!” Why the hell not? Looked at one way, my staying home is altruistic: I don’t know, but there’s the possibility that my being there will have a similar effect on them as it will on me. (For one thing, I have no idea how they’ve explained my vanishment to their kids. And there are a slew of kids, most if not all of whom I’ve met and liked, and who seemed to like me, and most of whom are old enough to remember me, and, maybe, if they care, wonder where I went.) So if I cede them the floor, I’ll avoid a possible conflict, or at least possible angst on more than my own part.
I go back and forth between “I’m going” and “Hell no”. If I go it will be purely out of obligation. That’s the saddest change of all.